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USA Stood for Us, A-ME-RICA Now Stands for Me

September 2, 2010

Is American no longer about “Us, We the People?”  Surely, this can’t be. The notion of disunification must be an aberration, the result of a bad day at work, or sorrow of hearing of friends who lost their job and can’t find another. While ruminating on this thought, I looked around and notices at all the stuff in my house was labeled “Made in China.” Even my PC, invented in the U.S.A., more than likely came from an off-shore manufacturing plant. Desperately, with no luck, I tried to find something new labeled “Made In the U.S.A. Finally, though lacking a label, I found one thing that was most certainly made in the USA and that was is my grass and trees.

OK, let’s get back to the subject at hand. Has America really turned from an Us to a Me nation?

For a little bit of history, on September 17, 1787, our legislators adopted the Constitution, which said:

 “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Well at least during the birth of our country there was a conscious effort to collectivize the masses.  During the growth of our nation, this central tenet was tested time-and-time again from the Civil War, the lawless wild west, and the roaring 20’s to the 1932 siege on Washington, DC by unemployed WWI veterans, the civil rights movement of the 60’s, and the unpopular war in Vietnam. On the other hand, look how we felt as a nation when Neil Armstrong stepped forth on the moon. Though horrific, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 brought Americans together.

Today, how do we feel, as Americans? A good way to test the waters is think of the relevancy of the inscription below the Statue of Liberty, who stands boldly with a broken chain at her feet as an iconic symbol of freedom of the United States. The inscription reads:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

The current landscape suggests these words are rather hackneyed and not so to apropos. OK, the Statue of Liberty is over a hundred years old and may not be a good reflection of today’s environment. So let’s take as close a look as humanly possible by  seeing what’s in today’s news headlines. Surely this will support or refute how we as Americans feel at this moment.

Front page headlines in the Thursday, September 2, 2010 edition of the Wall Street Journal reads:
• East Coast Braces For Hurricane Earl
• Explosion in Gulf Shakes Oil Industry
• Bernanke Defends Record On Lehman
• Rivals in Middle East Fast-Track Talks
• New Guilty Plea in U.S. Army Bribery Case
• U.S. Sues Arizona Sheriff Over Probe
• Texas Lawmaker Repays $31,000 to Foundation
• U.S. Funds Boost Eyed for Yemen
• Illegal Immigration to U.S. Slows
• Petraeus Says Tribal Knowledge Lacking
• U.S. Officials Head to Beijing
• Stem-Cell Plaintiffs Cite Ethical Factors
• U.S. Marks Start of New Era in Iraq
• Ex-Illinois Gov. Ryan Seeks to Overturn Conviction
• Subscriber Content Read Preview
• U.S. Adds Pakistani Taliban to Terror List
• Boy-Scout Sex-Abuse Cases Settled
• Suspect Killed in Hostage Standoff

As a matter of due diligence, another major newspaper was similarly examined.

The front page headlines and National News in the Thursday, September 2, 2010 edition of The New York Times reads:
• Leaders Call for Peace as Mideast Talks Begin
• Maker of Botox Settles Inquiry
• Israeli Peace Effort Rests on Netanyahu
• Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young
• In Somali Civil War, Both Sides Embrace Pirates
• Feud With Palin in Background of Alaska Upset
• Murkowski Concedes Senate Race in Alaska

• On Big Moving Day, Boston Battles a Pest
• Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Fell, Study Says
• Hurricane Earl Clears Beaches of All but Surfers
• National Brief | South: Louisiana: Judge Refuses to Toss Suit on Drilling Ban
• National Brief | South: Georgia: Dissenters Denied Control of Rights Group
• National Brief | Rockies: Utah: Mormons, Holocaust Survivors Reach Accord
• National Brief | Midwest: Ohio: Disgraced Ex-Congressman Back on Ballot
• National Briefings | West: California: Backers of Plastic Bags Prevail
• Maryland Hostages Safe as Police Kill Gunman
• Will Aging Chimps Get to Retire, or Face Medical Research?
• Foreclosures Could Pose Trouble on Election Day
• White House Memo: For President and Predecessor, a Chill Returns
• A Celebratory Road Trip for Education Secretary
• Finding Suggests New Aim for Alzheimer’s Drugs
• Study Sees Heart Risk in Meridia Diet Pill
• Boy Scouts Settle Suit With Victims of Abuse

What’s apparently lacking, is topical news about:
• Job Creation
• Care for the Elderly
• Foreclosures (Yes, NYT ran something about Foreclosures’ effect on elections, lol)
• Rising Cost of Heath Care
• Education Excellence
• Getting off Foreign Oil
• Adoption of Renewable Energy on Main Street
• U.S. Trade Imbalance
• Deficit Spending
• Escalating National Debt
• China’s Currency Manipulations
• Demise of American Technology
• Death of American Manufacturing
• Inability to Compete Globally
….. and the list of goes on and on.

Why do these newsworthy omissions even exist? Surely, they are of utmost concern to all Americans, today and tomorrow. Finally, the light finally came on. The reason was so obvious, It’s not “Us” who turned into “Me,” but Washington who uses A-me-rica as “Me.”

We are all the same, Americans, displaced from some native territory or foreign shore, here to earn a living, put food on the plate, abide by social values, and work to make our home a better place for our children.

It seems, as the headlines suggest, reelection of “Me” is more important than truly caring about “Us.”

 Front Page, The New York Times, September 3, 1910

NYT Front Page Headlines , Sept 3, 1910.
• CUTS LIGHTING RATES TO KILL COMPETITION; Electrical Engineers Charge Edison Company with Discriminating to Down Its Rivals.
• DOESN’T KNOW STANDARD OIL; Titian-Haired Miss Alien Says She’s Not T.W. Lawson’s Trust Siren.
• CLOAK STRIKE ENDS; AGREEMENT SIGNED; Men Win All Their Demands Except That for the “Closed Shop.”
• GRAHAME-WHITE UP OVER BOSTON HARBOR; Englishman Makes His First American Flight as Preliminary to Harvard Meet.
• GOWNS UNDECLARED TO OUTWIT HUSBAND; Wife of Banker Broesel Says She Didn’t Want Him to Know of Paris Purchases.
• BARNES ATTACKS ROOSEVELT OPENLY; Finds That “All Thoughtful Men” See a “Frightful Danger” in His Ascendency.
• MRS. J.D. ROCKEFELLER ILL.; Her Condition Said to be Serious and Her Daughter Summoned.
• NEW ALUMINUM ALLOY.; Duralumin Said to be Strong as Steel and Very Light.
• MOB HANGS NEGRO COUPLE.; Man Shot Officer Who Tried to Arrest Him — Woman Was Implicated.
• WOMAN’S RECORD FLIGHT.; Miss Dutrieu Flies with Companion from Ostend to Bruges and Back.
• FLYING TOWARD BORDEAUX.; Bielovucci, on Way from Paris, Makes Over 150 Miles More.
• SWIFT FLIGHT WITH TWO.; A French Military Aeroplane Makes 56 Miles an Hour.
• EDITOR ONE WEEK — KILLED.; Scurrilous Article in First Issue of Havana Chantecler Costs Editor’s Life.
• HARRIMAN LINES RETRENCH.; Expenses to be Cut to a Minimum and Improvement Work Stopped.
• $50,000,000 CO. CHARTER.; City Service Company of New York to Furnish Light, Heat, and Power.
• CHICAGO CUSTOMS UP.; August Receipts the Largest for Any Month on Record.
• PARSON HELD FOR THEFT.; Rev. C.H. Sweet Charged with Misusing Funds of Congregational Church.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim Warriner permalink
    September 3, 2010 10:41 AM

    I like your thinking and have come to a similar opinion myself.
    This is my first visit to your blog – I look forward to reading more.
    Perhpaps a bit off point, but this is a contemporary philosophy…
    “Can’t we all get along?” Why can we not all work together for the common good – it requires give and take but no one wants to give anymore, only take.

  2. September 3, 2010 10:43 AM

    U.S. Lost Jobs in August, but Fewer Than Expected
    http://tinyurl.com/barry-stevens39

    Today’s News Alert from the NYT, “U.S. Lost Jobs in August, but Fewer Than Expected,” by Christine Hauser reported:

    “Private job growth in the last three months was stronger than initially estimated …..”

    “….. the economy lost another 54,000 jobs overall last month, mostly because of the loss of temporary Census Bureau jobs”

    “….. the unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent …..”

    “Private companies added 67,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said, more than the 41,000 forecast.”

    “In July, the private sector growth was revised to 107,000 jobs, rather than 71,000, and the June number was revised upward to 61,000 in June from 31,000.”

    “….. the government lost 121,000 jobs overall in August.”

    “State and local governments ….. cut 10,000 jobs…..”

    “The total number of unemployed people rose to 14.86 million in August from 14.59 million in July.”

    Does this report makes sense!

  3. September 3, 2010 2:32 PM

    It would be interesting to see headlines from the NY Times and, if possible, the WSJ, from the 19th century in comparison.

  4. MIchael Rupp permalink
    September 3, 2010 3:22 PM

    It was a pleasure reading the article Barry. What I wondered about was that you wrote it. Wake up… It’s definetely over with one country one nation. Globalization will make the situation worse during the next years.

    WE are all the middle and lower class people. The other ones are having fun investing their money in cheap labour countries to optimize their profit.

    I started here in the US 2008 as a native German mechanical engineer in environmental business. I met my American wife, we got married and I am proud to be here. I got my addiction for America during my service in the German Army when I had to drive amrican soldiers to their facilities all over Germany. They tought me how beautiful it is over here and how people stand together.
    Well, all I get here is that everybody is just struggeling to make a living and / or afraid to be raped with the theory ” salary down or we export your work space to China, Mexico or wherever we can give a s… about security in working spaces and environmental issues in the manufacturing facilities.
    We were faced with this philosophy in Europe way earlier. Straighht across our border were the communists we all hated and were afraid of. But we wondered why more and more products were made in Eastern Germany, Poland former Yougoslavia…….
    So obviously onle the WE people you and me were afraid of the bad communists. The big corporates crossed the border made some nice deals and imported the cheap products to the taxpayers. They didn’t pay taxes anymore in our country because with the profit they made they invested in manufacturing facilities abroad (tax deductible).
    This system works pretty good don’t you think.
    I apologize for some wrong spelling I am in a hurry and it’s not my native language.
    Please give me an idea how you want to stop this…. The more the people get scared the less people you will find to go for a demonstration somewhere… lying in front of the television is way more comfortable than to get your butt up and do something.

    Well my chances to find a new job in a company with work ethics will after my comment quite sure decrease

  5. September 3, 2010 3:34 PM

    NYT Front Page Headlines , Sept 3, 1910. Every article listed below was on the Front Page. Have an image of the Front Page, but not sure how to post it as a comment.

    • CUTS LIGHTING RATES TO KILL COMPETITION; Electrical Engineers Charge Edison Company with Discriminating to Down Its Rivals.

    • DOESN’T KNOW STANDARD OIL; Titian-Haired Miss Alien Says She’s Not T.W. Lawson’s Trust Siren.

    • CLOAK STRIKE ENDS; AGREEMENT SIGNED; Men Win All Their Demands Except That for the “Closed Shop.”

    • GRAHAME-WHITE UP OVER BOSTON HARBOR; Englishman Makes His First American Flight as Preliminary to Harvard Meet.

    • GOWNS UNDECLARED TO OUTWIT HUSBAND; Wife of Banker Broesel Says She Didn’t Want Him to Know of Paris Purchases.

    • BARNES ATTACKS ROOSEVELT OPENLY; Finds That “All Thoughtful Men” See a “Frightful Danger” in His Ascendency.

    • MRS. J.D. ROCKEFELLER ILL.; Her Condition Said to be Serious and Her Daughter Summoned.

    • NEW ALUMINUM ALLOY.; Duralumin Said to be Strong as Steel and Very Light.

    • MOB HANGS NEGRO COUPLE.; Man Shot Officer Who Tried to Arrest Him — Woman Was Implicated.

    • WOMAN’S RECORD FLIGHT.; Miss Dutrieu Flies with Companion from Ostend to Bruges and Back.

    • FLYING TOWARD BORDEAUX.; Bielovucci, on Way from Paris, Makes Over 150 Miles More.

    • SWIFT FLIGHT WITH TWO.; A French Military Aeroplane Makes 56 Miles an Hour.

    • EDITOR ONE WEEK — KILLED.; Scurrilous Article in First Issue of Havana Chantecler Costs Editor’s Life.

    • HARRIMAN LINES RETRENCH.; Expenses to be Cut to a Minimum and Improvement Work Stopped.

    • $50,000,000 CO. CHARTER.; City Service Company of New York to Furnish Light, Heat, and Power.

    • CHICAGO CUSTOMS UP.; August Receipts the Largest for Any Month on Record.

    • PARSON HELD FOR THEFT.; Rev. C.H. Sweet Charged with Misusing Funds of Congregational Church.

    Here is my summary of the headlines: Business Practices (competitive, cost savings, and higher revenues), Scandals (sex, wife, and embezzlement), Union Power, Technology (flight and materials), Politicking, Passage of an American Icon, Horrific Bigotry, Women’s Rights, Improvements in City Infrastructure,

  6. September 3, 2010 3:35 PM

    Jan,

    I posted the front page headlines from the NYT, 100 years ago.

    Barry

  7. September 3, 2010 4:10 PM

    The Front Page of the September 3rd 1910 issue of The New York Times is shown at the end of this posting.

  8. September 3, 2010 4:17 PM

    Sorry … that part did not show up in my Web email. It is visible, however, at the Web site.

  9. September 3, 2010 11:06 PM

    35 years in business, 25 employees 10 separate companies sub-contracting from us. Two years ago had to close the doors. It was like we stepped in quick sand, and the harder we would try to make it work the further we got buried. 35 years 12 to 15 hours a day we worked
    but the reasons we
    did this for, evaporated over night.
    The last two years have been hard in many ways but the most important one,
    when I think about it, “is the country becoming a socialistic country”, and will i be ok with that if its true ? Do Socialist work 8hrs day 4 to 5 days a week?because I don’t think I could return to working 12 to 15 hours a day 6-7 days a week to have our government say that I’m rich so I must give up 50% in taxes and take what I’ve built up from nothing, so at my death, it can not past to my children.

    Has our country been sold ? Was there a war without bombs and blood shed that we lost ?
    Has America of All the weak and tired become too weak , tired and lazy?
    Do WE just need a real Leader, one with the real experience to lead, To become We again.

  10. September 3, 2010 11:23 PM

    Clay,

    A leader points us to true North and keeps us on course. What is our true North? There is no course. What technological feat have we created lately, a pit where the supercollider once laid. Now rockets to take us to the moon and beyond are targeted for demise. Besides the money thrown away, we come up empty handed. Our vision has become to0 myopic, without a vision, a true North, and a leader to take us there, we wander away.

    We’re poor little lambs
    who have lost our way,
    Baa Baa Baa,
    We’re little black sheep
    who have gone astray
    Baa Baa Baa.

    Barry Stevens

  11. September 4, 2010 6:16 AM

    Barry, being Australian, there cannot be much for me to say here. But what I do admire is your dedication, and your sense of the role of opinion and commentary. Well done.

  12. September 6, 2010 2:39 PM

    Comment sent privately, sender allowed posting

    From: Laurence
    Date: Sat, September 04, 2010 8:58 am
    To: Barry

    Where did you come up with this line “Well at least during the birth of our country there was a conscious effort to collectivize the masses.”? The Founding Fathers were anything but collectivists. They were all about liberty, property rights, limited government and minimal taxation. Our government’s policies took the wrong road starting off with Wilson’s progressive era. That period represented the beginning of collectivist (Marxist) thinking in America. It expanded with FDR and LBJ and how now moved even further to the left with Obama. Do you like this direction? I don’t. its EVIL!

  13. September 6, 2010 2:45 PM

    Comment posted in LinkedIn on this discussion

    LinkedIn Groups
    • Group: On Startups – The Community For Entrepreneurs
    • Discussion: USA stood for Us, A-ME-RICA now stands for Me
    Barry, you’re right I guess. I was watching a documentary programme on the (lack of) progress in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Your message to revitalize America creating more startup businesses could be on the right lines. Relying on Big government to help is a joke.

    All I saw on the TV was central government in White House, Congress, Louisiana state, FEMA trying to look as if they were helpful. The dogs in a dog-eat-dog society seem to be good at speeches and lining their pockets. I guess that’s they they’re in power. Time to look after oneself.
    Posted by Yen Chong

  14. September 6, 2010 7:33 PM

    WE know true North, WE do, Thats probably why We are sitting it out, re- group, until the ship is turned around.
    It will become harder for this ship to keep going with out the hands that can man the main sail, can read the sexton, compass and a Rudder, having the right people around you to help weather a storm.
    So how can you concentrate on new direction if you can’t handle the basics?
    The money spent retraining is wasted if the program has them practicing a routine the wrong way , it doesn’t matter how long you practice or how hard if you don’t have a clue and for the ones that do know and can make a difference can not participate in something they know is totally wrong.
    Will it take a Mutiny.

    fix the Rudder
    and realize this ship is not
    just for touring around to see the sights that have been built by the Great one’s before you arrived. This Tour isn’t a vacation

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